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Invasive Species Resources

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International Maritime Organization.

Amendments to an international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of potentially invasive species in ships' ballast water entered into force on 13 October 2019. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the BWM Convention) was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to address this problem. The BWM Convention entered into force in 2017. The amendments formalise an implementation schedule to ensure ships manage their ballast water to meet a specified standard ("D-2 standard") aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, and make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how ballast water management systems used to achieve the D-2 standard have to be assessed and approved. This will help ensure that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location – and avoid the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental effects of establishing an integrated management strategy to control cogongrass in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The draft environmental assessment is now available for comment. Cogongrass is an invasive exotic grass found on public and private property, along roadways, in forests, and on farmland. This federally regulated noxious weed grows rapidly, reducing forest productivity, harming wildlife habitat and ecosystems, and encroaching on pastures and hayfields. Because of cogongrass' impact on agriculture and forest industries, Congress has given APHIS funding to partner with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina to control the spread of this weed. APHIS is proposing is an integrated management strategy that uses preventive, cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods to control cogongrass in key areas of its distribution. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on this environmental assessment by April 1, 2020.

UNFAO. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
An insect that can infest and damage hundreds of hectares of maize fields, literally overnight, is sweeping across Asia – alarming smallholder farmers and threatening livelihoods – but the damage can be limited, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today. Fall Armyworm is native to the Americas. However, since 2016 it has been aggressively moving ever eastwards, sweeping across Africa, and making landfall for the first time in Asia last summer. Fall Armyworm (FAW) was first detected in India in July 2018 and by January of this year, it had spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China’s Yunnan Province.

National Environmental Science Programme (Australia). Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

New research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has shown that invasive or pest species are a problem for 1,257 threatened species in Australia, or about four out of five species. The research which has been published in the scientific journal Pacific Conservation Biology also identified the top ten invasive species based on how many threatened species they impact. Lead researcher Stephen Kearney from the University of Queensland said many people may be surprised at which species top the list. “Rabbits, a plant root disease and feral pigs are the top three pest species impacting Australia’s threatened species,” Mr Kearney said.

National Conference of State Legislatures.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks environment and natural resources legislation to bring you up-to-date, real-time information on bills (from 2015) that have been introduced in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Database provides search options by state (or territory), topic, keyword, year, status or primary sponsor. Topics include: Wildlife-Invasive Species and Wildlife-Pollinators.

Australian Government. Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The exotic plant pest fall armyworm has been detected for the first time in Australia, in a network of surveillance traps on the northern Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Erub. Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O'Connell, said the caterpillar stage of the fall armyworm, also known as Spodoptera frugiperda, damages many crops across Africa and Asia vital to human food security, such as rice, maize and sorghum. "Everyone can do their part to protect Australia from biosecurity risks like fall armyworm by being aware of what can and cannot be brought to Australia from overseas or from the Torres Strait region and reporting any unexpected pests, plant matter or soil."

Adult moths of fall armyworm were detected in surveillance traps monitored by the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy. These traps were set up as part of preparedness activities for early detection as fall armyworm is a strong flyer and has been spreading rapidly through Southeast Asia countries in recent months. For more information, see Fall Armyworm and Other Exotic Armyworms from the Australian Department of Agriculture.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

All known feral swine have been eliminated from Colorado thanks to a near 15-year state and federal partnership comprised of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS), the USDA Forest Service (FS), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA). The partnership formed in the early 2000s as a task force to manage invasive feral swine, which root up crops and pastures causing billions in damage nationwide each year. Feral swine also spread disease to livestock, wildlife and humans. Ground-nesting birds and other wildlife are easy prey for feral swine. And the swine put native wildlife at risk by competing for resources and destroying habitats and ecosystems. 

You can help keep Colorado free of feral swine:

  • Spread the word that in Colorado it’s illegal to possess, transport or release feral swine, wild swine species or hybrids.
  • Report sightings of feral swine or transportation activities to USDA Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297) or Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-297-1192.
  • Get more information at the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
More than 50 non-native species have found their way to the Galápagos Islands, over 10 times more than scientists previously thought, reports a new study in Aquatic Invasions published Thursday, March 28. The study, a joint effort of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Williams College, and the Charles Darwin Foundation, documents 53 species of introduced marine animals in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest marine protected areas on Earth. Before this study came out, scientists knew about only five.

International Maritime Organization.

A key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water enters into force. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) addresses aquatic invasive alien species (IAS) by requiring all ships to implement a ballast water management plan, among other actions.
See also: Ballast Water Convention Enters into Force (Sep 12, 2017)

Government of Canada.
Grass carp, one of four species of Asian carp, has the potential to disrupt the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy unless their spread is stopped, according to a report released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada with support from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The socio-economic study concludes that, in addition to the significant ecological threat that is posed by the presence of grass carp in the Great Lakes, there would also be economic, social and cultural ripple effects. The full report can be viewed here (PDF | 1.34 MB).

California Academy of Sciences; National Geographic Society.

iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! By recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. Experience and record nature with species identification technology by downloading the iNaturalist app (Android and iPhone) --  See Getting started:

  • Find Wildlife - it can be any plant, animal, fungi, slime mold or evidence of life found in the wild
  • Take Pictures - be sure to notice the location
  • Share Observations - upload your findings to iNaturalist

Seek by iNaturalist is an educational tool and provides a kid-friendly alternative. Seek allows you to identify plants and animals from your photos by harnessing image recognition technology, drawing from existing data collected from observations on iNaturalist (no registration is required, and no user data is collected).

DOI. Office of Insular Affairs.

U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced the release of $3,442,389 in fiscal year (FY) 2020 grant funding to suppress and control the brown tree snake (BTS), Boiga irregularis, primarily on Guam. Funds also support prevention, detection, and rapid response efforts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hawaii, in addition to research and development on how to improve suppression methods and potentially eradicate the snake on Guam. The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) Brown Tree Snake Control program FY 2020 funds are divided among several federal, state, and territorial agencies that collaborate in support of the three pillars of BTS suppression: $1,229,296 is used for control in rapid response and research activities, $1,724,210 is used for interdiction, and $488,883 is used for prevention through coordination and outreach.

DOI. Office of Insular Affairs.

U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced $942,206 in fiscal year (FY) 2020 Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative grants to eradicate and control the spread of invasive species in the U.S. territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as well as in the Republic of Palau, and Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Funding will be used to introduce biological control of coconut rhinoceros beetles, control and eradicate feral cats and monitor lizards, and destroy wild vines, all of which are disruptive to ecological systems and impacting communities and livelihoods in the islands.

European Commission.

In October 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests (“Plant Health Law”). On 13 December 2016, the Regulation entered into force and will be applicable from 14 December 2019. The new rules aim to modernise the plant health regime, enhancing more effective measures for the protection of the Union's territory and its plants. The Plant Health Law increases the prevention against the introduction of new pests via imports from third countries. Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 establishes the list of high risk plants the introduction of which into the EU territory will be provisionally prohibited from 14 December 2019 until a full risk assessment has been carried out. Published in the Official Journal on 11 October 2019, the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1702 lists 20 quarantine pests as priority pests, including Xylella fastidiosa, the Japanese beetle, the Asian long-horned beetle, Citrus greening and Citrus Black Spot, whose economic, environmental and social impact on EU territory is the most severe.

Great Lakes Commission.
Aquatic invasive species inflict millions of dollars of ecological and economic damage to the Great Lakes, with impacts on coastal industries, water quality, native fish and wildlife and human health. Recently, Blue Accounting, in partnership with state and federal agencies, launched a new suite of web-based resources and tools to support early detection of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. The earlier new aquatic invasive species are detected, the easier and less expensive it is to avoid potentially devastating consequences of a large invasion. The new tools released by the Blue Accounting initiative help target efforts to focus on high-risk species and locations across the 11,000 miles of shoreline and 94,000 miles of surface area that make up the Great Lakes basin.

Government of British Columbia. Ministry of Agriculture.

Three Asian Hornets (Vespa mandarinia) were found in the Nanaimo area on Vancouver Island in mid-August. The identification has been confirmed by Canadian and international experts. This is the first time this insect has been found in British Columbia. Please report suspected Asian giant hornet sightings to the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia.

European Commission.

The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The two strategies are mutually reinforcing, bringing together nature, farmers, business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future. The new Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species. The strategy proposes to, among others, establish binding targets to restore damaged ecosystems and rivers, improve the health of EU protected habitats and species, bring back pollinators to agricultural land, reduce pollution, green our cities, enhance organic farming and other biodiversity-friendly farming practices, and improve the health of European forests. The strategy brings forward concrete steps to put Europe's biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe's lands and seas into effectively managed protected areas and bringing back at least 10% of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features.

Australian Invasive Species Council.

A new report has identified an international 'bug superhighway' capable of carrying a large variety of environmentally destructive overseas insects into Australia. The study, led by Monash University, rated the environmental harm being caused by 100 of the worst overseas insect species and recommends a string of actions to keep them out of Australia. The most dominant group of invasive insects by far are the hymenopteran insects – ants, bees and wasps – making them the world's most environmentally harmful invasive insect species.

"Our report found that environmentally harmful bugs, beetles, ants and moths are most likely to hitch a ride into Australia along an international bug superhighway made up of imported plants, nursery material and the timber trade," said report author Professor Melodie McGeoch from Monash University. The report identifies the international trade in cut flowers and foliage as a high-risk pathway for more than 70 of the species studied. Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said this is the first time Australian and international scientists have comprehensively analysed which invasive insects overseas are doing the most environmental harm and could therefore threaten Australia's natural environment if they breach the nation's borders.

Government of Saskatchewan.

Today, Environment Minister Dustin Duncan introduced the Government of Saskatchewan’s new Aquatic Invasive Species Strategy during an address to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s (SWF) annual convention in Weyburn. The new framework is designed to help the province prevent, address and manage aquatic invasive species (AIS) threats. The ministry and the SWF are partners on the province’s AIS Task Force – which focuses on additional education and monitoring activities – along with other government agencies, conservation groups, non-government organizations and universities. "This strategy emphasizes the need for collaboration and co-ordination with provincial and federal government agencies, non-government organizations and neighbouring jurisdictions to prevent the introduction and spread of high-risk aquatic invasive species," Duncan said. The province's new AIS Strategy, as well as further information about AIS and fishing, is available online.

University of Western Australia.

New research from The University of Western Australia has shed light on why some invasive plants make a better comeback after a fire, outstripping native species in the race for resources.